We wanted to make it into Kazakhstan today to stay on schedule and had found out that the border closes at 6. The roads were craptastic; worse than we even imagined. Justin was speeding right through though, which inevitably broke the temporary wires holding the sump guard. He got under the car and did a half ass job to attach them as fast as possible to continue on. Doing the math, we were going to get to the border at 5:50.
Around a random corner was a police checkpoint. We got pulled over and we were freaking out slightly that he was going to ask us for papers.... we kind of forgot to register the car and get insurance for Kyrgyzstan... they never asked at the border and it just never came up afterwards....well, except for every time we passed a cop car. He asked us where we were from, where we were going, and if it's just tourism. Being super friendly and polite, we answered all the questions. He looked at his watch, looked into the distance towards the border and told us to go along. Not sure if we got through because closing time, or if that's all the checkpoint was to begin with.
Math was correct. We pulled up to the border and sat at the stop sign at exactly 5:55. Justin calls it the most white knuckle drive he's done this trip. There was no one there except a few hitchhikers on the other side. The soldier came out and lifted the bar for us to come through. Sweet.
There was barely any security and the guys that were there were clearly ready to go home. They waved us up to the booth, took our passports and didn't even care to read the police report. They stamped it after hearing the quick version of the story, laughed, cursed them damn gypsies, and wished us luck. They led us back to the car and asked to open the trunk. It was quite disgusting to look at from all the dust so I asked if he believed me that we washed the car that morning. He laughed and said most of the other ones are much worse, that was nice to hear and he just closed the drunk without actually looking at anything. And that was it. Less than 5 minutes for the whole thing.
Now to enter a country. Kazakhstan. If we all recall, last time entering the country took 7 hours. It was now 6 on the dot, and they waved us in! Yes!!
Most people crossing that border are local farmers and don't need passports, they probably thought this was going to be a quick one (it looked like it took all of 30 seconds at the other border for locals, whoops, little did they know what was coming their way).
They told us to get out of the car and go to the booth window. They were all closed and we had to go around the side. The guy was super nice and said no problem at all when I apologized for holding them up. We told him the story, he read the report and looked concerned. We iterated the fact that we've already been to Kazakhstan and that they've already called the embassy and these are, in fact, legitimate passports. He closed the window and went to talk to his supervisor. He was back in a few minutes, we filled out the paperwork, and he stamped us. No way. Just like that. We had to go back for the car search though where the guards were antsy to leave until they heard the story.
Again, if we recall the last time we entered Kazakhstan, our car was searched 3 times throughly including opening closed food pouches. This time they had justin open the trunk, they looked in but didn't take anything out. They then sat in the front seats and played with EVERYTHING. They checked out every wire, played with every camera, switch, MP3 player, ruffled through Justin's wallet that he left by the seat, played with various currencies from other countries, even took out an Advil to fidget with from the container.
We watched them like hawks to make sure they didn't take anything. It was very bizarre but the two borders in total took 20 minutes and we again found ourselves in Kazakhstan! The roads were just as bad and lacking on this side of the border so we found a river and tucked ourselves in a cow pasture hoping to milk a cow. Unfortunately, the cows left after they had a drink of water, so we ended up making a tomato-based pasta instead of alfredo. I was quite disappointed as I wandered for a while with an empty bucket in search of a cow. We had a campfire and tucked ourselves into bed in 3 layers of sweaters and coat, mittens, and toques.